The Los Banos Tiger Sharks came close, but placed second at the Merced County Swim League Championships last weekend at Dos Palos High, with 765 points to Hilmar’s 782.
"Everybody swam great that day. They swam their hearts out,” Los Banos coach Drew Guintini said. “A couple more relays, a few more finalists and we probably would have done it that day.
“In the individual events, they swam really hard. On the second day, we made up points in the individual events. I was very, very proud.”
A number of records fell to Los Banos swimmers, with Gannon Lemos and Dos Palos’ James Savage going back and forth in the 6-and-under age group. Lemos set new records in the 25-yard freestyle (16.16 seconds) and 50-yard freestyle (37.28), beating records of 17.30 and 37.62 set by Blayze Jessen in 2006. Savage beat one of Jessen’s records with a 19.06-second time in the 25-yard butterfly and beat an Emiliano Grieco record from 2011 with a 20.50 time in the 25-yard backstroke preliminaries. Lemos and Savage each placed second in the events the other swimmer won.
“Gannon, he swam awesome this weekend,” Guintini said. “He’ll age up next year, but he’ll be even stronger in 7-8.”
Grieco, now in the 7-8 age group, set a new record in the 25-yard backstroke (19.16), breaking Erik Martin’s 19.31 set in 2000.
“He’s been such a solid little swimmer for us. For 7, he’s such a talented swimmer already,” Guintini said. “It’s kind of one of those things where you know they’re going to be good for a long time.” And in the oldest group, Mayra Garcia set records in the 100-yard individual medley (1:07.63), beating Anjele Kapeghian's 2010 record, and the 100-yard butterfly (1:03.56), beating Morgan Hurley’s 2011 time. Hurley, on summer break after playing her freshman season of water polo at Colorado State, was on hand to see her record broken.
“This was her swan song, I guess you could say,” Guintini said. “It doesn't sound like she’s planning on swimming anymore, and she went out and kicked it into high gear. Kind of a bittersweet moment — you watch her kick butt, but this is the last time you’re going to be able to see it. It was a pretty cool thing.”
At 17, Garcia can return for another year after her senior season, but Guintini said most kids will be preoccupied with college plans by that point. Garcia was in on another record, the 15-18-year-old medley relay (2:04.53) with teammates Alex Marquez, Elissa Martinez and Jade Fachin. Garcia was also on the 2011 team that set the last record of 2:04.83 with teammates Hurley, Victoria Vander Poel and Kellie Ketchum.
“A lot of those records, some are new, but some have been there for a while,” Guintini said. “Mayra broke a record of Morgan’s, and that record’s not going to be broken for a long time.”
With another summer season finished, Guintini and assistants Polly Lemos and Carly Tom can relax a bit. Guintini leaned on Lemos and Tom more than usual this summer, with a work schedule that kept him away from about half the meets.
“Polly and Carly did and awesome job. I couldn't do it by myself anyway, even if I was there,” he said. “They’re both very knowledgeable and competitive, hard working. They were a big help.”